Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  More tormenting of the guys.  Quatre and Duo suffering in this part.  A little Heero torment as well.



Choices of the Heart



Part Ten


Duo flinched and whimpered as he battled his way through the endless memories that taunted him in the night, nightmares that
haunted even his waking moments.  It was different every night though, the memories cycling through in no apparent order at
all.  Anything could spark Duo into having a nightmare . . . a touch . . . a scent.  He never knew when it would happen or why.

Vicious whispers tugged at his subconsciousness, trying to break him down as the nightmare went on.  There were people
yelling, hard slaps and punches to his young body.  The torment of living in an abusive household.  The memories of the
beatings and the way his foster parents had done nothing but hurt him . . . both emotionally and physically.

“You’re nothing but a little fuck up!”  His foster father had shouted, slapping him harshly across his face.

“Worthless brat!”  His foster mother said, using the ladle she held in her hand as a weapon to beat him.

“Stop!  Leave him alone.”  Solo said, Duo’s wonderful older brother trying to defend him, trying to save him from what these
people kept doing to him.

“We told you to stay out of this.”  That man hissed, grabbing Solo by his arm, roughly dragging him out of the room.

A moment later, Duo was shocked to hear a scream and a group of loud thuds . . . he couldn’t tell which had come first.  He
ran to the source, knowing that it had been Solo’s voice he had heard screaming.  He stopped, shocked and horrified as he
reached the basement door, his foster father looking down with wide eyes, muttering about it being an accident.

Duo felt numb as he stared down at his brother’s immobile body, a couple of his limbs twisted in unnatural positions.  He silently
walked down the stairs, stepping into the darkness below him.  Then he knelt by Solo’s side, watching the slight rise and fall of
Solo’s chest, feeling as a warm red liquid began to soak into Duo’s own jeans.

Duo snapped awake at that, tears dripping from his eyes as the last images of the nightmare faded from his memory.  He
remembered that night so clearly, when the police and ambulance had shown up, how his foster parents had claimed the Solo
had been running in the house and had slipped and fallen down the stairs.  Duo hadn’t really been paying attention to what had
been going on then, but apparently the cops believed his story, since they hadn’t lost custody of him.

Solo hadn’t died right away.  He had lived on for three more days, his neck broken and in a coma until he silently passed away
one night.  Duo had visited him there in the hospital, seeing all of those machines hooked up to his body, fighting a losing battle
to keep him alive.  Only a few days after Solo was buried, Duo had run away from home, not that those bastards had even cared.

Duo buried his face in his pillow, screaming into the soft surface as he once again had been forced to witness his brother’s
murder.  He let himself sob for a few moments, then choked his tears back, stifling his urge to break down and cry.  He
stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the shower, letting the warm water relax him as he cleaned off his body.

After several blissful moments of warm water soaking his tired body, Duo stepped out of the shower and dried himself off,
wrapping a towel around his hair to soak up some of the moisture in it.  Then he went back to his room, a towel securely
wrapped around his waist.  It wasn’t even dawn yet, so there was plenty of time to let his hair dry, at least enough to get it into
a braid.  He never could go back to sleep after a nightmare, so there was no point in attempting it.

Once he got to his room, he searched through his backpack and pulled out his little white pill bottle.  He popped the cap and
downed a few pills, waiting for the buzz to kick in.  He sighed, dragging what homework he hadn’t finished at lunch yesterday
from his bag and began doing his assignments.


*****


Quatre groaned, his eyes slowly fluttering open as he felt movement in the bed beside him, his ribs beginning to throb because of
the movement.  For a moment fear shook him to his core, forgetting that he had been sleeping in his father’s bed.  Once he
realized where he was though, he took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.

“Are you okay?”  Father asked from where he was sitting at the edge of his bed.

Quatre looked over at him, noticing the disheveled hair, the rumpled pajamas.  Obviously, Father was getting up to go to work.  
“Yes, I’m fine.”  Quatre replied, although it was a lie . . . he was tired and sore and he just wanted to crawl away and die.  “You
going to work now?”

Father nodded.  “Yes.  You can stay here if you want, or go back to your own room.  You’re not well enough to go back to
school yet and I want you resting and getting better.”  He reached over, brushing back Quatre’s bangs before rising to his feet
and walking away.  “I’ll be home later tonight.”

“Yes, Father.”  Quatre replied.  

Slowly, he got himself into a sitting position, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.  Dizziness passed through him so he
just sat there until he it washed away.  Then he stood and carefully began to walk, every step causing a flash of pain to lance
through his aching body.  He would rather be alone in his own bedroom than alone in Father’s room.

As soon as he reached his room he went over to his bed and crawled in, bringing the blankets up over his head as he drifted
back to sleep.  He’d wake up again later, he knew that.  Maybe then he’d eat something, or do something.  Even if he was hurt
he didn’t want to be a lump and do nothing.  But for now, he just wanted to rest a little.


*****


School passed by at an agonizing pace for Heero.  All he wanted to do was to go home and check on Quatre, to see if his
stepbrother was feeling better at all.  His teachers and some of the other students offered their condolences, telling him that they
wished Quatre a speedy recovery.  Heero thanked them as kindly as he could, not truly knowing how to react to any of this.

Now he was sitting in gym class, just sitting on the bleachers with the other students that were excused from the activities.  Mr.
Peacecraft had been kind enough to let him sit out today, obviously noticing how distracted Heero was.  He’d probably just get
himself hit in the head with a basketball if he played today . . . he couldn’t think of anything other than Quatre and hoping that he’
d get better.

As gym ended, Mr. Peacecraft told all the boys to hit the showers, then went to his office as he did after every class.  Heero just
sat there on the bleachers, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular.

“I heard your brother is a slut.”  Some uncouth jerk said, whispering those words in Heero’s ear.

Heero jumped to his feet, pushing the jerk away, watching as he stumbled back and landed on the gym floor.  It would have
been better if Heero had taken a higher seat in the bleachers, but still it was satisfying to see that jerk fall.

“I heard he wanted it.”  The jerk continued.  “Bet he enjoyed it when Alex touched him.”

Heero just seethed quietly, flexing his fists at his sides.  Heero closed his eyes, feeling unusually hurt, tears welling up in his eyes
as the boy’s words stung him deeply.  Quatre was not like that . . . he hadn’t enjoyed it.

“Was he begging Alex and Mueller for it when you broke it up, Heero?”  The jerk asked.

“Shut your Goddamned mouth!”  A loud voice exclaimed, followed quickly by the sound of a smack and a loud thud.

Heero opened his eyes, only to see Duo standing in front of him, the jerk that had been badmouthing Quatre lying unconscious
on the gym floor.  Duo was still dressed in his white gym shorts and red tank top, normal wear for the gym glass.  Heero had
forgotten that he and Duo shared the same class for gym.

“I-I couldn’t let him talk about Quatre like that.”  Duo said, turning slightly to face Heero and smiling.  A moment later, Duo’s
eyes rolled back in his head and he crumbled to the floor.

Heero rushed to his side, checking his pulse quickly.  A student came out of the locker room and Heero yelled at him to get
help.  Moments later, Mr. Peacecraft rushed into the gym, a half a dozen students coming out of the locker room to see what
was going on.

“What happened?”  Mr. Peacecraft asked, kneeling beside Duo.

Heero pointed to the jerk.  “Well, he was making . . . upsetting . . . comments about Quatre and Duo punched him.  Then Duo
just passed out.”  Heero stated.

“Well Nurse Sally’s on her way.  You don’t go anywhere until we can sort this out.”  Mr. Peacecraft said, moving over to the
jerk and checking the fresh bruise that was spreading across his face.

“Yes, sir.”  Heero said, taking a seat on the bleachers once again, this time to wait and see what would happen next.  He hoped
that Duo wouldn’t get into too much trouble for defending Quatre’s honor.  


*****


Duo slowly opened his eyes, feeling like a metal spike was being shoved right through his skull.  His head just hurt so much.  He
groaned in discomfort, wondering what the hell had happened and where he was.

Suddenly, Nurse Sally was leaning over him, shining a light into his eyes.  “How are you feeling?”  She asked, offering a slight
smile to him.

“I’ve got a killer headache.”  Duo replied, trying to sit up.  Nurse Sally put her arm around him, helping him up.  “What
happened?  Where am I?”

“You passed out in the gym today, Duo, after punching another student.”  Heero said, from where he was standing by the
doorway.  Duo turned and looked, noting that Mr. Peacecraft and Mr. Dorlian were standing next to him.

“Oh yeah . . . that jerk had it coming to him though with all that talk about how Quatre wanted it.”  Duo seethed, clenching his
hands into tight fists, narrowing his gaze in anger even though it only hurt his head more.

“I suppose that due to the circumstances I can let you off with a warning this time, Duo.”  Mr. Dorlian said.  “But next time you
will be disciplined.”

Duo bowed his head, swinging his legs over the side of the bed that he was sitting on.  “Thank you, sir.”  He looked up at Sally.  
“Can I go now?”  He asked.

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”  She asked.

Duo nodded.

“All right, go to class.  But if you feel at all dizzy you come back here.”  Sally said, she scribbled something on a piece of paper,
and something else on another sheet.  “Here’s a late pass and a pass you can give to your teacher if you feel at all faint.”

Duo hopped off the bed and took the papers.  “Thanks.”  

As soon as he had reached where Heero stood, Heero handed him his backpack.  “Here’s your stuff.  Mr. Peacecraft had me get
it for you.  Maybe you should change before you go to class.”

Duo looked down at himself after taking the bag.  He blushed slightly, seeing that he was still in his gym shorts.  “Yeah, I guess
I should.”  Slowly, he started walking past Heero.

A hand clamped on his shoulder and he looked over to see Heero smirking at him.  “Thanks.”  Heero simply said.

Duo only smiled in return and stepped away, letting Heero’s hand fall from his shoulder as he made his way out of the nurse’s
office.  He went to the nearest boy’s bathroom and quickly changed clothes, just wanting to get today over with.  

That had been a close call . . . too close.  Maybe he should cut back on the pills, or take more . . . he wasn’t sure which would
help.  For all he knew passing out today had to do with the serious lack of sleep he had gotten last night.  At least it was Friday
so he wouldn’t have to worry about school tomorrow.  He sighed, hoping that he could get some rest this weekend, but
doubting that he would be able to.


*****


Quatre grumbled, hearing the doorbell ringing.  He rolled over, his eyes fluttering open.  He yawned and stretched, then winced
and gasped since that only caused him pain.  Slowly, he sat up, his hand covering his ribs as he moved.

He stood, a little unsteadily at first, but not as dizzy as he had been earlier that morning.  That was a good thing he guessed.  As
he struggled to keep his eyes open, he shuffled his way out of his bedroom and to the bathroom.

Once he had relieved himself, as difficult as that was with only one hand, Quatre started on his way back to his room.  He
braced his good hand on the wall as he walked, taking slow steps since he didn’t feel like stumbling and falling.  He was sure
that would be painful in his current condition.

A loud creaking sound alerted Quatre to the fact that someone was walking up the stairs.  That one step had been creaking for
years now, they had just never bothered to get it repaired.  Curious to know who it was, Quatre stepped away from the wall and
took a few hesitant steps over toward the staircase.

His eyes widened as he saw a stranger slowly ascending the stairs, at least his one eye widened since the other was swollen
shut.  Panic welled up inside Quatre, his heart pounding as he found that he couldn’t breathe properly.

The man was huge, a bear of a man.  He had a rough looking beard, a fez atop his head.  Quatre could hear his heartbeat in his
ears, the fear and panic just coursing through his aching body as he thought that this man meant to hurt him.

Quatre turned and ran back to his room, just wanting to get away.  He didn’t see as his sister stepped out from behind the huge
man, didn’t hear as she called out for him to stop either.  He just slammed his bedroom door shut behind him and locked it, only
wanting to be safe.

Then he crumbled to the floor, bringing his knees as close to his body as he could without it hurting, as he began to cry.  He
tried to take long even breaths, ignoring as Iria pounded on the door, pleading with him to open it, that the strange man was not
a threat.  Quatre didn’t quite hear the name she had said, but Quatre didn’t care anyway.  He couldn’t help but feel frightened.  

He lowered his face to his knees, his one arm curled around his legs, openly sobbing as Iria’s pleading ceased, just wishing to be
left alone.  He wanted to feel safe again . . . why couldn’t he feel safe?



To Be Continued . . .